Securing Tomorrow: A Recap of CISA’s Cyber Resilient 911 Symposium (Central Region)


Karima Holmes, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Emergency Communications Division (ECD) 

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CISA’s Emergency Communications Division (ECD) spearheaded the Cyber Resilient 911 (CR911) Program’s fourth regional symposium, which included CISA Regions 5 and 7. Among the attendees were state 911 administrators, representatives from 911 centers, IT/cyber communities at the state and local levels, and Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (SWICs) from each state. The symposium fostered collaboration with various internal CISA resources, including Cybersecurity Advisors (CSAs) and Emergency Communication Coordinators (ECCs) representing specific states within each CISA region.

This symposium highlights the pivotal role emergency communications play in safeguarding our communities, emphasizing the imperative of establishing resilient systems and fostering collaboration. Building on this collaboration is crucial for enhancing nationwide interoperability and strengthening stakeholder relationships, especially in emergency communication systems like 911. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) continue to partner with CISA to engage stakeholders to determine cybersecurity priorities for the CR911 Program. 

At the symposium, speakers and panelists presented an overview of the current cyber threat landscape and shared resources to help enhance the cybersecurity posture of Emergency Communication Centers. Symposium topics included the current state of cyber resilience in the 911 ecosystem, best practices for responding to a cyberattack, including an overview of lessons learned from the Bucks County, Pennsylvania, cyberattack, and the available cybersecurity resources for each region. CISA facilitators used interactive live polling, breakout sessions and group discussions to gather stakeholders’ current needs, concerns, and capability gaps about cybersecurity. Attendees also participated in a tabletop discussion focused on a simulated cyberattack scenario. 

Billy Bob Brown, Jr., Executive Assistant Director for CISA’s ECD, reflected on the culmination of the program’s fourth symposium. “We've been privileged to host four successful symposiums across the United States, bringing together diverse 911 teams to deliberate on cyber resilience and chart a course towards a secure 911 ecosystem. Our collaborative efforts have been instrumental in learning from our partners and tailoring a CR911 Program that addresses the community's needs, identifies gaps, and incorporates invaluable input. From the Northeast to the Southeast, and through the Central and Western Regions, our engagements with 911 stakeholders and federal partners, including the FCC, NHTSA, and NTIA, have enriched our understanding of regional challenges and perspectives. By heeding their insights and working in concert, we are forging a path towards safeguarding our nation's Emergency Communications Centers against evolving cyber threats.”

CISA concludes its first round of regional symposiums and plans to continue its efforts to reach 911 stakeholders during FY25. These symposiums are an integral part of refining the CR911 Program and guiding the development of stakeholder-driven products tailored to the needs of the 911 community. Each symposium brings CISA one step closer to achieving its vision to: Empower the nation’s 911 communities to defend their critical infrastructure against cyber threats through the design and implementation of a secure and resilient 911 ecosystem. CISA looks forward to continued collaboration with our stakeholders and federal partners in the future.